By Eric Fairchild, Senior Principal
As our thoughts turn to love on Valentine’s Day, it’s a great reminder that our projects want to be adored as much as we do. They have a desperate need to be supported, taken care of, and yes, even loved by everyone involved. If a project doesn’t have love, or buy-in, from its sponsors, management, and users, it could very well end up failing. Think about your projects: are they suffering? Are they being fully supported? Are they feeling the love? If not, try using these three tips to get them back on track.
Sponsor Coaching Sessions
Sometimes a sponsor might not communicate well with a project team, or they might not even truly understand what their role is. Explain to your sponsor the positive impact he or she can have on a project. A project without a clear direction will result in poor change management, lower morale, and likely delays in delivery. When a sponsor shows commitment to the project and a willingness to make tough decisions, it helps the team to believe in themselves, the project, and the sponsor. As a result, they will be more enthusiastic about communicating their progress and supporting one another. Sometimes the sponsor might take this for granted, and a friendly reminder (or a formal coaching session if the sponsor is inexperience with or unsure of the role) would be in order.
Communicate with Management
Effective communication is the foundation of a successful project. Ensuring a message is heard is just as important as its delivery. Make sure your management team is hearing the messages you are trying to send them, that way they can take the actions you need them to take. If they are not understanding or taking action, stop and take some time to understand why.
– Maybe you’re not communicating at their level? Translate the message into terms or points that have meaning to them, instead of burying it with project statistics. For example, if there is a change in scope, explain how it will impact the business case that was put forth to support the project. Use the “executive summary sandwich” approach – tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you just told them.
– Maybe you’re using the wrong communication medium? Everyone absorbs information differently so one channel or method will not do. Use a combination of clear documentation (including pre- and post-reads), email summaries and the ever so important verbal delivery.
– Maybe you’re not being specific enough? Make sure action items are crystal clear – each action item should include who needs to do what by when in order to avoid a specific negative outcome.
Drive Effective Change Management Among Users
Change management is vital to a project. Without it, the new process or technology may be too difficult to use and could be pushed aside. Throughout the entirety of a project, it’s important to inform the end users of what’s coming, how it will work (and how they will work with it), and why it will benefit them. Send monthly or bi-weekly newsletters about your project progress so that the users feel up-to-date about the pending change; it will help them feel more confident about making the switch.
Get buy-in from sponsors, management, and users; you will increase your project’s chances of making it to the finish line. Remember, for projects to evolve into what they were originally intended to be, they need love from everyone involved.